Over the past decade there has been numerous smear campaign against EU in Iceland. The biggest anti-EU group is a political party called Independence Party, but they have been the ruling government political party since 1992. The Progressive Party was for a long time anti-EU political party, but earlier this year it switched sides and did go pro-EU. But even so there are anti-EU forces working in that political party today. Other anti-EU groups are The Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍÚ), The Farmers Associaton of Iceland (Bændasamtök Íslands) (Yes, there is a spelling error there. But it is a responsibility of FAI), in the last there is the cross-political movement called Heimssýn (contains xenophobic groups and other element of extremists), was created in 2002 by former leader of People’s Alliance. A man named Ragnar Arnalds, how has been opposing every major international treaty that Iceland has done since 1970. More specially the EFTA and EEA treaties that did help Iceland economic to move forward and modernize in due time since they became active. There are also some religious fundamental groups in Iceland that are against EU membership of Iceland.
Opposition to EU membership in the Icelandic government
It is just not the political opponents of the government that oppose the Iceland EU membership bid. But there also is the Left-Green Movement, that is currently in the government with Social Democratic Alliance. Within the LGM there is opposition to the Iceland EU membership bid. The reason for this is the fact that LGM is made up out of two to three groups from the old political landscape in Iceland (mostly from People’s Alliance defunct political party) . Most of these group that are in control of LGM today are from old political parties that deferred a international cooperation and economical inter-binding. Like the one that EU offers to it’s members nations. LGM is also made up radical left people how are part of anti-globalization movement, or have connection to them .In the general group of LGM members there is up to 40% support on average for EU membership. At the moment however, it is a bit smaller due to the next
Icesave and EU connection
All last summer the Icesave issue was on the mind of the Icelandic nation. The reason was quite simple, the government opposition blew the case out of all proportion. The anti-EU groups also used the Icesave debate to connect the Icesave directly to EU. Mainly because the nation that the Icesave debate was about are member nations of the EU (UK, Netherlands). This had a great negative effect on the EU debate in Iceland, as the anti-EU groups did successfully manage to connect Icesave directly to EU. Even if the fact remains that EU had little to due with Icesave directly. We have yet to see the end of that effect, in worst outcome it could bring down the EU accession agreement that comes after two to three years. However, I must point out that I find that outcome not likely to happen as the debate about EU becomes more informed and more facts surface, and less scare propaganda makes it to the EU debate.
For the love of the Króna
Many of the argument against the EU here in Iceland is that with joining the EU Iceland is going to face higher unemployment rate (the anti-EU people just love to ignore the fact that Iceland already has the EU laws regarding to the job market). But things are not as simple they seems. The anti-EU groups also claim that by joining the EU and start using the Euro the Icelandic people are going to face higher unemployment because then the government cannot deflate the Euro to make exports stronger and create more jobs that way. This augment is actually flawed, as by deflating ones currency creates more problems then it solves. It creates higher prices on imported foods and goods. But it also put the inflation and interest rates on a upward trend that is quite hard to solve in the long run. This off course are all problems that the Icelandic population has seen before and know all too well. But that does not stop the anti-EU groups making claims that the our small króna is going to save the day. Even if it created the problem in the first place.
Scaremongering about the EU
One of the most popular political tactics in the world is scaremongering, it is easy, it is cheap and you really don’t care about facts with you are scaring people brainless. This is what they do in the anti-EU groups here in Iceland. They claim the most crazy things about the EU. Here are few examples, EU is going to draft Icelanders into a EU army (that doesn’t exist), EU is going to take over Iceland natural resources, foreign fishing ships (Spain, UK, etc…) are going to all the fish around Iceland and sell it on there home market. The last one is the most popular one, it was even used in youth IP ad in 2003 (SUS) (you can find the ad on youtube) to scare people from voting pro-EU political party (SDA) at the time. The most scary thing is the fact that this actually worked in the election 2003 to some degree.
The man in the Morgunblaðið
The most unpopular man in Iceland, and one of the main leader of the anti-EU campign here in Iceland is Davíð Oddsson. The former PM, foreign minster and SÍ (Central Bank of Iceland) head. Up to around 1993 Davíð Oddsson was positive about Iceland joining the EU and to become full member. But after becoming fascinated with Thatcherism and Neoliberalism (or something of that sort) he did turn a against of the EU. With the result that EU was not debated to a serious degree while he was in office as PM and had some serious power in Iceland. The reason is for that is quite simple, Davíð and his party (IP) did effectively ban all debate about EU on the surface. Instead they did scare people with anti-EU ads and propaganda while they had some power in Iceland. In order to stop EU support in the media, groups connected to LÍÚ and Morgunblaðið placed Davíð as a main editor of Morgunblaðið few weeks ago. After Davíð took his office as main editor of Morgunblaðið it has become more anti-EU by the day, and in fact has started to show signs of Fox News style reporting in regards to the EU. However, the Morgunblaðið is possible facing bankruptcy as subscribers have fled the paper after Davíð became main editor of it.
What will the future hold
What is going to be the result out of Iceland EU accession bid no one can tell yet. But in my best hopes are that the Icelandic people pass the EU accession treaty when it is ready and properly announced in Iceland and properly debated. There are always those how are against change, that is just how the world works. We will see what happens, in good time.